The Lafayette area was well represented in the Louisiana Sportswriters Association’s preseason poll released Tuesday. One school — Acadiana — found itself in familiar territory atop the Class 5A poll, while another — Ascension Episcopal — debuted in the Class 1A rankings for the first time at No. 9.
“At the start of the year, it’s an honor,” Acadiana coach Ted Davidson said. “We’d much rather be there at the end. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We appreciate the notoriety but right now we’re just trying to get better each week.”
Davidson guided Acadiana to its second straight Class 5A state championship and fourth overall, defeating Destrehan 23-7 last season.
The Rams received 9 of 11 first-place votes and 128 overall, compared to No. 2 Archbishop Rummel (118), No. 3 John Curtis (94), No. 4 West Monroe (93) and No. 5 Zachary (87).
“We’ll do our best to tell our team what it really means,” Davidson said. “It’s an honor, and people think highly of us. It’s kind of a poll of potential. We keep telling them potential means you haven’t done anything yet. It’s something you have to go out every week and take care of.”
District 4-4A rivals Teurlings Catholic and St. Thomas More are ranked No. 2 and No. 4 in the Class 4A rankings, with league foe Carencro receiving votes.
Crowley leads a strong area 4A contingent that received votes, along with Cecilia, Breaux Bridge and Rayne.
Notre Dame of Crowley and Catholic-New Iberia are expected to battle each other for the District 6-2A championship. They also begin the season ranked as Class 2A’s Nos. 7-8 teams with Opelousas Catholic and Loreauville also receiving votes.
The climb has been a gradual one for Ascension Episcopal’s program, which is in its seventh season.
Head coach Mike Desormeaux is entering his third season, having guided the Blue Gators to a 13-10 record after inheriting an 0-10 team.
AES’ 8-4 record a year ago included the school’s first playoff win — a 21-16 road victory over Hamilton Christian — before falling in the regional round to eventual state runners-up Southern Lab.
AES’ preseason ranking is a combination of last year’s finish, coupled with the promise of this year’s team, which returns 17 starters.
“It’s humbling, and it’s an honor,” Desormeaux said. “There’s a whole bunch of good teams in the state in 1A. We’re proud that we’ve raised some eyebrows in the last couple of years. We’re off to a good start, but it’s just that. Without a strong finish, it doesn’t really mean anything.”
District 7-1A stalwart Vermilion Catholic is ranked No. 4 with Central Catholic-Morgan City and Lafayette Christian each receiving votes.
AES’ ranking will get an early test Friday with a road game at No. 6 East Beauregard.
“This is why you play the game,” Desormeaux said. “They’re a great 1A team in the first week of the season. They do a great job, and their kids play hard. It’s going to be a true test.”